Every founder, CEO, and executive I coach complains that they don't have enough time. And I get it. Time is the one resource we can never get more of: We can't save for later, and it's the one thing everyone always wants from us. Yet most of them spend time on tasks that they really shouldn't. There are two main reasons why.
First, many professionals haven't figured out their high-value activities. These are the things you do that create disproportionately high results. Many executives that I coach haven't taken the time to identify their 3-5 highest-value activities, which means they simply don'tt know where to focus their time.
Second, they do low-value tasks because they get caught in the trap of thinking they can do it better. And here's why: They can do it better. But that doesn't mean they should.
Your time is your most precious resource and you should compare everything against your value/time ratio--not by task efficiency. If a task is not high-value for you, don't do it--even if it takes someone else ten times longer.
Here are six key areas where you can leverage support staff and outsourced services to free you up for higher value activities:
1. Scheduling meetings and calls
This can be a tough one to let go. Everyone likes to control their schedule.
However, you don't have to give up all control. Instead, create time blocks for different types of activities and then let someone else work out the details.
It's a strategy that I call the Defensible Calendar. Create an ideal week using daily time blocks and then funnel events accordingly. An executive assistant or an automatic booking system will free you up from the back and forth of trying to find a time that works for each party.
2. Sorting through email
It's amazing how much time we spend sorting messages. Instead, have an assistant triage your email several times a day and sort into now, later, and never.
Then, only address what you need to address. Whenever possible, send someone else instructions and have them write a response and handle it for you.
Master the art of what I can the Introgation, where you combine an introduction and delegation by cc'ing a third party and ask them to handle the request. That way you can stay in the loop but out of the driver's seat.
3. Editing and proofreading
The formality of writing has decreased dramatically with e-mail and messaging--but typos, misspellings, and grammatical errors will always hurt your professional image. Fortunately, these are easy things for other people to catch and fix.
Having someone who can peruse and correct your communications before they go out is an easy task to delegate. Even better, write out a rough draft or a set of notes and have someone write up a final draft for you to revise and send.
Once you've worked with someone for a while, they can pick up your style and mannerisms to make communications feel like they're coming from you.
4. Collecting and consolidating information
If you manage several teams and projects, there's a lot of information that needs to be gathered and organized. Project reports, status updates, and staff reviews all need to be collected and consolidated before they can be analyzed for insights.
A good assistant or project manager can do the heavy lifting and free you up to do the analysis and make the decisions. For those who are technically inclined, look at incorporating one of the report automation tools or dashboard integration platforms.
5. Research and data gathering
Good decisions require good data. However, that data can be hard to find and time consuming to gather.
Scouring through reams of paper, dozens of web pages, or tables of data takes time and persistence. Having someone do the heavy lifting can increase the data you have and ultimately improve the quality of your decision-making.
6. Travel reservations and confirmations
I've seen key executives spend hours trying to find a cheaper flight that, in the end, was only $100 less than the original.
While I'm all for managing costs and reducing hard expenses, this is not the best use of your time, especially when you have other tasks that can help generate top line growth. A well-trained assistant or one of the many good executive travel services can save you time, offer the best possible arrangements, reduce your costs, and maximize your reward programs.
Once you switch your perspective from task efficiency to value creation, choosing to delegate these and many other tasks becomes a much easier choice to make. And while you'll never find more time, you'll enjoy the time you do have more knowing you're making the most of it.